Two Sinaloa "tourists" arrested in Japan with 3 kilos of cocaine each

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MX
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Two Sinaloa "tourists" arrested in Japan with 3 kilos of cocaine each

MX
This post was updated on .
Note: This article first appeared on 19 January 2020 in #886 weekly print edition of Ríodoce, a Culiacán-based newspaper. I was personally able to find the Facebook and Instagram accounts of both suspects.



Background and arrest

It was not Juan Carlos's first trip. He knew his way there. He had pictures next to the statue of Hachicko at Shibuya Station in Tokyo, capital of Japan. He wore his football jersey, a sport he has been practicing for several years. Juan Carlos already knew his way there. The photos of his travels to Japan on Facebook. Likes are plentiful. Millions of people circulate around that site in Tokyo. It is one of the busiest train stations by both locals and tourists. But Juan Carlos is not just any tourist. Trips to Australia and Japan are stamped in your passport. Tourism has led him to know those countries at the other end of the planet. But all of these travels are part of his job. Some hidden packages in his suitcase cover his trip expenses. He transports drugs. His full name is Juan Carlos Plaza Angulo.

In December he embarked on a new trip. This time with his girlfriend, Maria Fernanda Carvajal Acosta. Their "holidays" were paid for. The only requirement was to carry merchandise: three kilos of cocaine packed in the suitcase, and voila. Safe holidays. But something went wrong. Upon arriving at Narita International Airport the police were waiting for them. Both young men were placed under arrest in Japan. The information was revealed after Maria Fernanda was reported missing.

Family and friends stopped hearing about her when she left Mexico and didn't know her location. Via social media they began to circulate a picture with her name and information on his last whereabouts on December 23. But it was not until 2020 that her situation and whereabouts were made public. Maria Fernanda was part of the Pretty Monster women's football team. The team initially focused helping find the young lady when she "went missing". The detention was first confirmed by Mexico's Office of the Attorney General and the State Commission for the Search of the Disappeared. Then, the Mexican Embassy in Japan confirmed her arrest.

When her arrest was made public, María Fernanda's father shared a letter on social media saying that her daughter's whereabouts of his daughter were no longer a mystery. She was in Japan. The problem was a new one they didn't expect. "The most important thing is to know that she is well. She will be accountable to the authorities [in Japan] and will be responsible for their actions ... from my heart, thanks to all of you for your support", the letter read. Maria Fernanda allegedly traveled the night of her disappearance to Guadalajara with her boyfriend. Her cell phone was located in Badiraguato, Sinaloa, but it is not known when she traveled to Japan.



Modus operandi and reactions

Both young people transported cocaine in their luggages. Three kilos each. The modus operandi is the same one that has been used in Sinaloa in recent months: young professionals and athletes recruited to “vacation” abroad while smuggling drugs into those countries. The favorite destinations are Australia, Turkey, Japan and other countries in Asia. Young professionals with stable employment are often tempted to "vacation." According to sources, there are already several who have agreed to perform such activities. People in Sinaloa know.

The consulted by Ríodoce newspaper were not able to confirm if Maria Fernanda had already entered the workforce as a full-time employee. However, peoplewere not surprised when they learned of her arrest, and especially of Juan Carlos's, who already had several international trips under his belt. In Maria Fernanda's case, she worked as a dentist. She met Juan Carlos while playing football in Culiacán.

According to data from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, from 2016 to July 2019, the Mexican diplomatic network abroad provided consular protection to 9,779 nationals who were detained in other countries accused of drug trafficking. That is the case of Juan Carlos and Maria Fernanda. They are now part of the statistics for Sinaloans arrested abroad; to date, close to 1,200 Sinaloans have been arrested for drug trafficking outside of Mexico. Sinaloa ranks 2nd in Mexico in this statistic.

For Led Perry, President of Pretty Monsters football team, Maria Fernanda's arrest was not good publicity. He pointed out that what his team tried to promote was a healthy life-style and altruism.

The football institution issued a statement on Maria Fernanda's arrest:

“Pretty Monster has always driven the love for sport and this beautiful discipline that is football, our fraternity will always extend to the limits permitted by law… we wish from the bottom of our hearts that Maria Fernanda will clarify her legal situation and have her I'll be back soon, you are and you will be a great person.”

In the case of Juan Carlos there was no complaint of forced disappearance. At least not in the State Commission for the Search of Missing Persons or before the Prosecutor's Office. But his close circle knew what happened. He had gone on a trip. He had left as a tourist.

Source(s):
* Ríodoce: https://riodoce.mx/2020/01/21/los-turistas-sinaloenses-detenidos-con-cocaina-en-japon/

* Instagram (Maria Fernanda): https://www.instagram.com/ferrcarvajal/

* Facebook (Maria Fernanda): https://www.facebook.com/CarvajalFer

* Facebook (Juan Carlos): https://www.facebook.com/juankmamey

* Instagram (Juan Carlos): https://www.instagram.com/jcplaza47/ (Private)
MX
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Re: Two Sinaloa "tourists" arrested in Japan with 3 kilos of cocaine each

MX
This post was updated on .
Juan Carlos played for Guerreros Jaguar, a football team in Culiacan, in 2019. Picture was taken from the club's Facebook page, see here. I've boxed the suspect in red.

I'm looking at likes and comments to see if I can find him somewhere in this Facebook page.

MX
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Re: Two Sinaloa "tourists" arrested in Japan with 3 kilos of cocaine each

MX
This post was updated on .
Found the suspect's Facebook page. His name is Juan Carlos Plaza Angulo. I've updated his full name in the original post and added these links too.

* Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/juankmamey

* Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jcplaza47/ (Private)

MX
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Re: Two Sinaloa "tourists" arrested in Japan with 3 kilos of cocaine each

MX
Is there a Japanese drug law or Yakuza guru here who knows what these two Mexicans potentially face?

I found a reliable source that talks about sentences for illegal drug use, nothing about smuggling/trafficking or about carrying 3 keys of coke. I would imagine it is much higher.


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Re: Two Sinaloa "tourists" arrested in Japan with 3 kilos of cocaine each

ElGrandeRojo
I'm sure harsh penalties are in tow. Japan thankfully is more tolerant, and peaceful than most Asian countries. 2 Atomic Bombs will do that. Some Asian countries they'd most likely be facing execution. I'd think one of them may talk, although their families are now exposed. Can you imagine putting your whole family in the worst sort of danger to be a mule? I bet they didn't get more than 5gs for that trip.
MM
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Re: Two Sinaloa "tourists" arrested in Japan with 3 kilos of cocaine each

MM
Not sure what will happen here but a guy I went to high school with was caught with one or two kilos of hash at the same airport.  He served 5-6 years.  Near the end he was transferred to US Federal prison to complete sentence.  He lived in Japan at the time of arrest but much preferred doing time in US prison.  The Japanese prison was described as very rules oriented with strict penalties for minor violations.
MX
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Re: Two Sinaloa "tourists" arrested in Japan with 3 kilos of cocaine each

MX
Thank you for sharing. This is a complex case already because Mexico cannot legally submit an extradition for these individuals if do not have outstanding charges for them in their home country. All the suspects can do now (assuming they don't have charges in Mexico) is wait until they face trial in Japan and serve time. Or when Japan plans to deport them, which in that case they'll notify Mexican authorities.

I've been reading that Japanese prisons are unusually strict. To do anything, like seeing a doctor, purchasing a snack, writing a letter, you need to submit a formal request known as gansen. If your family wants to visit you, you have to make sure they bring a translator since prison officials have to monitor all your conversations and understand everything you say.
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Re: Two Sinaloa "tourists" arrested in Japan with 3 kilos of cocaine each

El_Bujo
Quite possibly the worst part about being in a Japanese prison is that you are subjected to a full cavity search (nude, including the rectum) EVERY SINGLE DAY...

Don’t ask how I know that
It matters not how a man dies, but how he lives.
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Re: Two Sinaloa "tourists" arrested in Japan with 3 kilos of cocaine each

Frank
In reply to this post by MX
Sad really, when you think about it. 3 keys each isn’t much but I believe the price of raw there is 500,000 us per Kg. Making it a 3 million dollar haul. Always wonder why anyone would mule dope via int’l airports these days. Watch midnight express and you’ll never consider such a stupid undertaking again. So young. For a ‘free’ holiday. Smh
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Re: Two Sinaloa "tourists" arrested in Japan with 3 kilos of cocaine each

leChef
In reply to this post by MX
They don't stand much chance. 99% of all accused will end up with a conviction in Japan.
MX
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Re: Two Sinaloa "tourists" arrested in Japan with 3 kilos of cocaine each

MX
In reply to this post by Frank
I've experienced many loopholes while flying internationally. I've flown into the U.S. from Mexico many times and there's been instances where my bags weren't checked upon arrival and was let right in. The flights were late at night and with hardly any traffic. Don't even get me started on body scans. That is non-existent if you fly from Mexico (if you fly out of Mexico City, you just have to pass through a metal detector). I've also flown into the Haneda Airport (Tokyo) and they didn't check my bags upon arrival, but they did go through security in the U.S. The loophole here (I think) is flying out of Mexico City or doing a connect at some other domestic airport before, where checks are lousy or airport staff can be easily paid out.

From what the report says, Japanese authorities were already waiting for them when they arrived. Someone tipped them off or somehow they were able to figure it out based on his frequent travels. Judging by the guy's Facebook page, he had been to Japan before and may have done this in the past.
MM
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Re: Two Sinaloa "tourists" arrested in Japan with 3 kilos of cocaine each

MM
In reply to this post by El_Bujo
Google

Terrance Sheard Japanese prison

This the person I worked and went to school with.  You should find in the results a letter he wrote shortly after being transferred to US custody.  The letter describes the conditions he was subjected to.  Also at the time he was only the second US prisoner transferred out of Japan.

US military personnel convicted of crimes in Japan serve time under much better conditions than civilian foreigners.
J
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Re: Two Sinaloa "tourists" arrested in Japan with 3 kilos of cocaine each

J
In reply to this post by leChef
Consider the Ghosn case, recently.  
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Re: Two Sinaloa "tourists" arrested in Japan with 3 kilos of cocaine each

leChef
Ghosn probably did his calculations. It will be interesting to see what Lebanese authorities are going to do. Most countries do not allow extradition of their own citizens.

There have been others like him though, just not that high-profile. I say good luck in getting top execs to Japan in the future!
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Re: Two Sinaloa "tourists" arrested in Japan with 3 kilos of cocaine each

Frank
In reply to this post by MX
If it was a tip off imagine how many other couriers were successful, if in fact they were simply bait for the authorities? That’s the real shady part of it, sacrificial lambs sent to slaughter so hundred plus keys slip right under customs noses. Maybe even a couple of flakes into them. Plus kickbacks and prearranged headline grabbing arrests. Red herring all the way on this one. That’s where I’d place my bet at least
J
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Re: Two Sinaloa "tourists" arrested in Japan with 3 kilos of cocaine each

J
Not really how it works, but people think that, I know.  No one wants to lose any work, even one kilo or two kilos.  Someone has to answer for that.  
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Re: Two Sinaloa "tourists" arrested in Japan with 3 kilos of cocaine each

Itzbrizz
In reply to this post by Frank
Do you mean street value? A key is not worth 500k wholesale even in mars.
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Re: Two Sinaloa "tourists" arrested in Japan with 3 kilos of cocaine each

leChef
@Breaze: According to recent busts, 1 kg of coke should be worth 20,000 yen wholesale. At current exchange rate: 183,766 USD.
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Re: Two Sinaloa "tourists" arrested in Japan with 3 kilos of cocaine each

Frank
In reply to this post by Itzbrizz
Yeah, it was an estimate. That was the value authorities placed on wholesale coke in AUS just a few years back. I know it’s a high estimate but they pay up to 500 per gram for pure yay in hard to reach places

https://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2015/jun/08/australia-new-zealand-most-expensive-ecstasy-cocaine-global-drug-survey

 Not quite sure how to properly link or make a post for that matter as I’m tech illiterate and new to the forum
Hopefully this one works

500 USD if that wasn’t clear... glad the link worked, still trying to figure out how to post lol. I know it’s  probably simple
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Re: Two Sinaloa "tourists" arrested in Japan with 3 kilos of cocaine each

Slappy
In reply to this post by leChef
In Japan everything is about saving face.  The authorities have to solve the crime before any charges are leveled.  This way the perpetrator isn't shamed.  That's why the conviction rate is so high.

When the Yakuza get wind of a pending police raid, they will plant a gun so the police find something and save face.  It's Japan after all ...
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